Tuesday, January 26, 2016

"Come on, is that all you got?"

It snows in South Carolina...SORTA!
Dear Family & Friends,

This week went by really fast. When the weeks are quick, it can be hard to grasp onto topics and ideas to send in my weekly email. 

To start, it snowed on Saturday! If it snowed in Pocatello like it did here, some might say "Come on, is that all you got?". 

On Tuesday, we met with Garret, one of the investigators I mentioned previously. Our meeting mainly consisted of him asking questions and us answering. He asked question about things omitted in the Bible and what the Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine Covenants is. We did our best to answer his questions, and he sure had a lot of them! We then offered to give him a Triple Combination book (Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price). One of the best things of our visit was that he had a strong desire to read the Book of Mormon for himself. That is all we missionaries can ask someone to do. Read for yourself and pray to know if it is true. Some missionaries may think, and members as well, or believe that an investigator may be converted to the Gospel simply by their own words. This simply isn't true. Our purpose is for those individuals to have the chance to read it for themselves and to bear humble testimony of your witness that the Book of Mormon is true. I have certainly grown to love and cherish the Book of Mormon. On two occasions I have been able to read through it, I learn something new every time. The Book of Mormon changes lives, it changed mine. It can change your too.

On Wednesday, as you may have heard from the missionaries serving where you are, there was a Missionary Broadcast from the Mission Department of the Church. There were multiple talks and training's given that stood out to me. Elder Anderson said in his talk and I paraphrase 'The Doctrine of Christ can only be received by revelation". Elder Bednar said this which blew my mind, "We can only bring our message unto the heart". He noted that there is a key difference in saying 'into' and 'unto'. Like what I said before with the Book of Mormon, we can only bring our message unto their heart, but only they can bring it in. One more thing that Elder Bednar said that I found to be profound, "Invite them (the investigator) to prepare to learn". Let those quotes sink in. I loved being able to watch that broadcast. It gave me a new perspective with how I teach and getting down to the base of our purpose.

I know this email is a little more preachy than others, but I felt like I needed to share it. Like the prophets of old, like Moses and Alma, they speak plainly the things pertaining to God. I absolutely cherish the Book of Mormon and I want to read it many, many more times for the rest of my life.

Stay warm y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The "Cup-storation" lesson

Dear Family Friends,

I would like to start off with one little tid-bit of information... Holidays like Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day when the libraries are closed and we are not allowed to use member's computers. This will continue to be the case unless the Georgia Macon Mission gets i-Pads. 

This week has flown by. I went on exchanges with Elder Haines in Evans on Tuesday. We had a lesson with one of their investigators about the Restoration, but with a twist he used cups! Elder Haines taught the 'cup-storation' lesson. In a nutshell, we have basic Christian beliefs, i.e Faith and Repentance. Elder Haines then put a card (priesthood) on them and then placed 2 more cups, Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Once you remove the Priesthood (or the card), the entire stack falls apart. He then added another cup to the base, Joseph Smith (stacked inside a cup representing Jesus Christ). You then rebuild it and it is exactly the same as it was before. It was an interesting way to teach it, for sure.

Later on in the week, we were sad to hear that C.K., one of our investigators, will be preparing to go back to Nepal and is using all of his spare time to get ready. We won't be able to see him until mid-March. Fortunately, we saw him earlier in the week. We taught him more of the Restoration and we were able to clear up some questions about the Book of Mormon and the Bible. An impression came to my mind during the lesson, "Invite him to be baptized''. Without dismissing it, I asked firmly if he found these things to be true, would he be Baptized? He responded that if it felt right, he would. That impression blew my mind. We then asked him to read the Book of Mormon and he replied with eagerness a desire to read it. He said he was looking for something to read during the 15 hours he will spend in the plane going to Nepal. Why not read the book of Mormon? C.K. is very intelligent and I guess that he may read the whole thing come March. I certainly pray and hope he does.

I catch myself often reflecting on the experiences I have had and the those that I will have. It can be very difficult at times to overburden my thoughts with different things. But I am slowly starting to learn and understand how to cope with different situations that I come across. Prayer and scripture study have undoubtedly been two of my best tools I use each and every day. Some days I am humble and patient, others, not so much. But I try to rely on the Savior when I have those difficult days. I am truly grateful for many things including the love and support of my family, friends, and others that I may not even know. 

Gotta keep on keepin' on! 

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, January 11, 2016

Holding Fast

Dear Family & Friends,

This week was a lot better compared to previous weeks. Our goal as a District was to find more Investigators and find more opportunities to teach. We were met with success.

 Earlier this week, we visited with Jacky, one of our few investigators. He has struggled to quit smoking and he wants to join the Church. That day we visited, I felt an impression to read 3 Nephi 11 with him. That prompting seemed to have come from nowhere, so I obeyed. I opened my Book of Mormon and the page for 3 Nephi 11 was the first to open. A second confirmation. We read and explained the importance of the Savior coming to the Nephites and Him fulfilling the promise he gave in Jerusalem when he said "  And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." The power and fulfillment of that verse from John 10:16! We read through and the Spirit was there and the room was burning with it. We left with a prayer and a hug with hope that this may be the turning point in Jacky's conversion.

As I have mentioned from previous weeks, we have struggled to find new investigators. We knew something had to give and that we needed to keep trying to find those elect souls that the Lord has prepared. On Thursday, we were having dinner with Bishop Smith. Before we left, he told us of a recent move-in across the street and over one. Bishop Smith had introduced himself and the Gospel came up. The man with whom he spoke to is C.K. He and his wife are from Nepal. As we left the Bishop's house, we immediately went over and introduced ourselves to C.K. He opened the door and immediately invited us in. We sat down and he asked me "What do I need to do to join your church?" We don't get that question often. Maybe once in a blue moon. We replied that he needs to have Faith in Jesus Christ and to repent. We got about that far when we turned to the Restoration. We talked for about 20 minutes or so and we left with a prayer. I was quick to realize a few things. He is a Christian by faith but a Hindu by culture. That must have been expressively hard for him. He told us that his father is ill and that they may have to leave for Nepal without a moment's notice. We tried again Saturday in the afternoon and in the evening. No one was home. They must have left already. 

Another experience caught my attention. We were tracting a neighborhood near our apartment and got to about the 8th door and a man named Garret, answered. He was very friendly and he told us that he is a Christian Apologetic and has learned a good amount of what we believe. He brought up Joseph Smith, the Gold Plates, and even the angel Moroni. We were near flabbergasted! He asked us sincere and soul stirring questions. We essentially taught the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation to him. People like Garret are hard to come by in the South. We left him a Book of Mormon and invited him to read it and he accepted. We were the first missionaries, let alone members he has seen. An absolutely incredible experience. I was grateful that I had studied the Restoration and Plan of Salvation extensively in order to try to answer the hard questions that people ask. I have grown to have a deep love for the scriptures and the knowledge that God has given to us by reading them. 

These experiences this week have definitely energized my vigor for missionary work. The small things really do overshadow the hard times that accompany being a missionary. These are important lessons I am learning and I have a hunger and thirst for more. Have a good week y'all!

Elder Alexander Kestner

Monday, January 4, 2016

Winter is finally here..or is it?

Christmas Zone Conference in Statesboro for the Savannah , Augusta & North Augusta Zones
Everyone enjoyed the time together & celebrating the Christmas Holiday
 Dear Family & Friends,

Well, Winter has finally arrived! It has been in the 40s most of the day and dips into the 30s at night. Let's just say that we turn the heater on at night. The past couple days I have broken out the sweater that my mom sent for Christmas. It arrived just in time too! The sweater really helps in this South Carolina cold. 

In the last week or so, we have been in a rut, so to speak. We have been struggling to find new investigators and reach our goals. I try to remain optimistic despite  everything. Elder Jordan and I are continually getting along smoothly. There have been some nights when we're in bed when we just talk about different things. Something I have done only once or twice with my companions in the past. 

On Friday, we were tracting on a street up the hill from our apartment. We had started that street a couple days before, but we went back to finish it before we went in for dinner. We knocked on a few doors when one of them opened, and a man named Brett stepped out to talk. One thing about the South is that when we go out tracting, a lot of people stand behind their doors as to shield themselves from us. A curious thing. So Brett, stepped out and we introduced ourselves. He has seen missionaries like us before riding our bikes and such. We talked for a couple minutes, mainly about families. Now, Brett is Catholic but we were able to agree that our church and the Catholic church has a strong stance on family as well as a similar leadership structure. It was nice to have a friendly conversation. Brett said he wouldn't mind if we came back to share more with him. That happening to us brightened our day.The Ward is definitely involved here. We have been asking for referrals and we continually seek them.

As per usual on major Holidays (i.e Independence Day, Halloween, etc) where much craziness happens, we were on lockdown in our apartment from 6 pm to the end of the night on New Year's Eve. We got back and planned for the upcoming week. Wanting something a little different, we ordered pizza from Papa John's using a gift card Elder Jordan's mom sent him. We ordered the special which was a large three topping. We got one with Pepperoni, Sausage, and Green Bell Pepper. We also got an order of Parmesan breadsticks. After eating all of the breadsticks and most of the pizza, we retired to bed with full bellies. 

December, as well as most of 2015, slipped past me. I have decided to make my New Year's Resolution to be this: To make full use of the time I have left to serve the Lord with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength. I see and feel myself growing and it isn't easy in the least. I am growing to love my mission more and more as I have experiences in sharing the Gospel and uplifting others, both member and non-member. I thank each of you for the prayers you send my way, I see your prayers helping do what the Lord has tasked me to do. For that, I am forever grateful.

I wish yall a Happy New Year and may the Lord send blessing on each of you in everything you do of every day. God Bless and have a great week!


Elder Alexander Kestner